Of Miracles and Interventions
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In Making Things Happen, James Woodward influentially combines a causal modeling analysis of actual causation with an interventionist semantics for the counterfactuals encoded in causal models. This leads to circularities, since interventions are defined in terms of both actual causation and interventionist counterfactuals. Circularity can be avoided by instead combining a causal modeling analysis with a semantics along the lines of that given by David Lewis, on which counterfactuals are to be evaluated with respect to worlds in which their antecedents are realized by miracles. I argue, pace Woodward, that causal modeling analyses perform just as well when combined with the Lewisian semantics as when combined with the interventionist semantics. Reductivity therefore remains a reasonable hope.
KeywordsDirected Path Causal Model Counterfactual Dependence Interventionist Model Actual Causation
For helpful comments, I would like to thank Michael Baumgartner, Christopher Hitchcock, Wolfgang Spohn, two anonymous referees, participants of the ‘Actual Causation Workshop’ in Konstanz in September 2010, and members of the audience for a presentation of an early version of this paper at the British Society for the Philosophy of Science Annual Conference in 2010. This work was supported by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (SP279/15-1) and by the James S. McDonnell Foundation Causal Learning Collaborative.
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